The Spanish government’s response to Catalan secession efforts should serve as a reminder that the State does not care about your vote.
Over the last few weeks we have seen a real-world historical drama unfold on the world’s stage. On October 1st the people of Catalonia, Spain held a referendum to put Catalan secession to an official vote. According to some reports as many as 43% of Catalans voted, with 90% of the votes coming in favor of seceding from Spain and becoming a new nation.
Catalonia already has some degree of liberty concerning local affairs. Since the implementation of the Spanish Constitution of 1978, Catalonia has been considered an autonomous nation under the Statute of Autonomy. However, Catalonia’s autonomy is still considered second behind the rule of the Spanish government and the Spanish constitution. This renders true autonomy and independence out of the question for Catalonia.
The reality of this situation has now come to light as the Spanish government declared the Catalan referendum illegal and even attempted to physically stop people from voting. Even further, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says the Spanish government will fire all Catalan government officials and take steps to reduce the power of the local government. The BBC reports that Prime Minister Rajoy is calling on the Spanish Senate to approve Article 155 of the constitution – which allows for direct rule over any of Spain’s autonomous regions – to strip Catalan President Carles Puigdemont of all his power and salary, as well as give the Spanish central government control of the local police force and public access TV. The Spanish government is expected to implement direct rule on Friday.
Of course, the Catalan people and leaders are not going to stand by and do nothing. Instead, many believe the Catalan police, firefighters, and other government workers will stand with the people’s vote and defy the Spanish central government. There are reports that Catalonia’s far-left Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) party is calling for “massive civil disobedience” on Friday should the Spanish government attempt direct rule. Raul Romeva, Spanish foreign affairs spokesman, told BBC Radio 4 that the Spanish government needs to respect the vote for independence. “I have no doubt that all civil servants in Catalonia will keep following the instructions provided by the elected and legitimate institutions that we have right now in place [in Catalonia],” he told the BBC. “Because what I can tell you is that the people and the institutions in Catalonia will not let this happen.”
To be fair, there are obviously those within Catalonia who do not support independence. The secessionist movement might not be a majority, but ultimately it does not matter. If even one person wants to be free, to secede from the state, they should have the freedom to exercise that right. This is why Democracy should not be equated to self governance. If even one person is forced to go along with the tyranny of the majority it is mob rule. With this in mind, secession should be supported from the national level down to the neighborhood level.
Whatever takes place on Friday – be it a peaceful transfer of power or bloodshed – the incident illustrates how the government will not allow the people to vote their way to freedom. Quite frankly, there is no magic loophole, “get-out-of-jail-free” card which renders one invisible to the tyranny of government. No matter what is written on paper in any constitution, people in power will always fight to keep that power, and government will always seek to grow – not shrink – its reach. More specifically, what we are talking about is the institution known as the State.
Generally speaking, the State can be defined as a centralized institution which maintains a territorial monopoly on violence, taxation, and governance in a particular geographical landmass. The violence of the State is given an air of legitimacy by the creation of courts, police, legal norms, etc. all of which actually serve to reinforce the idea that the State’s monopoly is legitimate, or perhaps, even in the best interest of the people. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. As Anarchist philosopher Errico Malatesta wrote in Anarchy, the State is
the sum total of the political, legislative, judiciary, military and financial institutions through which the management of their own affairs, the control over their personal behaviour, the responsibility for their personal safety, are taken away from the people and entrusted to others who, by usurpation or delegation, are vested with the power to make laws for everything and everybody, and to oblige the people to observe them, if need be, by the use of collective force.
The creation of the State did not come about as a voluntary product of humanity signing a “social contract.” Rather, the concept was foisted upon our ancestors via kings, ceasars, czars, nobility, presidents, and other representatives of the State. The fight for secession and independence in Catalonia (and the subsequent reaction from the Spanish State) should serve as a a reminder that the State does not care about your vote. Despite the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights calling for the freedom to defend certain inalienable rights – including overthrowing a tyrannical government – anyone who attempts to defend themselves against invasions of privacy or liberty would likely be considered a terrorist, or at the least, an extremist, by not only the U.S. government, but other hopelessly indoctrinated “citizens.” The State is not going to allow you to exit out the backdoor peacefully because you held a vote.
However, this does not mean that all hope is lost. I do believe there exists a strategy which can be effective in slowly (but consistently) removing one’s support for the State. It’s known as Agorism. Think of it as a form of economic secession. Others have called it the “Most Dangerous Philosophy the Oligarchs Don’t Want You to Know.” The short version: don’t vote the bums out and don’t use violence. Instead, create something new by removing your economic support from the State and redirecting it into the next phase of humanity. I have written (and talked) about the idea extensively for those who want to know more.
For now, it’s important that each of us ask ourselves whether we are comfortable living under a State (Spanish, American, whatever) which believes the people are not free to exit when they please. The U.S. nation-state has showed they do not believe in cognitive liberty, they do not believe in privacy, and they are moving quick to start limiting inter-state travel. How long before we admit that the people will never be free until we are free from the restrictions, limitations, and violence of the State?
Derrick Broze is an investigative journalist and liberty activist. He is the Lead Investigative Reporter for ActivistPost.com and the founder of the TheConsciousResistance.com. Follow him on Twitter. Derrick is the author of three books: The Conscious Resistance: Reflections on Anarchy and Spirituality and Finding Freedom in an Age of Confusion, Vol. 1 and Finding Freedom in an Age of Confusion, Vol. 2
Derrick is available for interviews. Please contact [email protected]
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